The Kite Bar - It's Mission Control for Your Kite...
The kite bar is more than just the steering wheel for the kite; it’s what you use to sheet and trim the kite, and is where you connect the safety leash and chicken loop. Combined with the fact that almost all bars are customized to a specific kite, they can get pretty confusing and are very important to understand. Overall, you will encounter three main types of bars:
General Bar Information and Definitions
Although each bar is unique, they all share the same general characteristics.
Each kite and bar combination has two safety features. The first is the chicken loop, which is followed by the safety leash. These two safety systems are covered in detail in the Kite Safety Features page – click here to read it.
Bar Pressure is a term used to describe two things:
- How hard the kite pulls on the bar. The heavier this pressure is, the more work it will be to steer the kite.
- How much you can ‘feel’ the kite through the bar. The way that the kite flies is transferred into the bar. If the bar has a direct feel, you can tell what the kite is doing based on how the bar pulls – this way you can fly the kite without looking. If the bar has a ‘soft’ or ‘mushy’ feel you will have to look at the kite more often to see what it is doing.
These elements are common across all kites and bars. Let’s look at the unique aspects of each type of bar.
Bow Kite Bar
This style of kite bar is tailored to deal with the unique requirements of bow kites; specifically, the need to sheet the kite. The bar has an extra long de-power line to accommodate for the larger sheeting distance, and incorporates an adjustable stopper ball.
When sheeted out fully, a bow kite will have no power (or very little power). This is great when you need to dump power, but also means that you must constantly hold the bar in place to get the power you want.
Enter the stopper ball. You can adjust the ball on the line which allows you to rest the bar on it, or to help avoid sheeting out the kite too much. If you fall, the bar will ‘override’ the stopper ball and will push it to the end of the de-power line, fully sheeting-out the kite.
Bow Kite Bar Pressure
Originally bow kites pulled very strongly on the bar, but thanks to recent development and innovation, new kites have much lighter pressure.
Bow kites generally have a less direct feel than C- Kites. It is harder to read sheetable kites because any increase or decrease in power can be because of a change in position or sheeting. For example, a bow kite can pull much less either by being flown to the edge of the wind window, or by being sheeted out completely.
The Hybrid Kite Bar
Since Hybrid Kites rely on sheeting like a bow kite, the bars are very similar; they come with a long de-power line and an adjustable stopper ball.
The C- Kite Bar
C- Kites do not need to be sheeted as much as a bow or hybrid kite, so the de-power line on their bar is shorter. A shorter de-power line brings the trim adjustment straps closer and makes them easier to adjust. These bars can come with a stopper ball for convenience.
C – Kite Bar Pressure
The C- Kite has bar pressure that many kiteboarders love. Because they do not sheet as much as a bow or hybrid, the C kite provides a direct and responsive feel to the rider. This bar pressure is what almost all bow and hybrid kite developers are striving to recapture.
The Pulley (2:1) Bar
The pulley bar is a very unique bar. Instead of the outside lines attaching to the bar ends, they pass through a pulley and attach to the trim strap, just below where the inside lines attach.
The pulleys are intended to do one thing – double the effect of steering inputs. These bars steer the kite twice as fast as a normal bar because they pull twice as much line. Check out the diagram below to see how they do this.
In the diagram above you can see how the lines get longer as the bar rotates. If this was a non-pulley bar the lines would be moved by the distance D. Because of the pulleys, the lines are moved the distance L, which is longer than D.
By pulling more line, this type of bar can steer kites twice as fast as a conventional bar. This allows riders to get much more response out of their equipment.
Pulley-Bar Bar Pressure
The addition of pulleys onto the bar has two drawbacks.
- First, the bar has a much less direct feel. The lines do not pull directly on the end of the bar; they pull on it indirectly, which dilutes the feel of the kite.
- Second, they require more strength to use. This is related to the physics of the bar. It sheets twice as much line in the same distance a conventional bar would, which means you need to work twice as hard (more correctly, apply twice as much force).
You can see the differences between the various types of bars, but there is one more thing to keep in mind – the differences between different brands. Each brand has unique ways to attach the safety leash and release the chicken loop. Make sure you know how to properly use the bar for your brand of kite.